What value does a coach really bring to the table for an athlete?
If you look at a Tiger Woods or a Michael Jordan, 98% of the stuff they learned has been straight through trial and error. As a coach, you just want to create the environment that still allows them to learn. In the PGA, the golfers are kinesthetic geniuses. If you look at the golf swing, most of it is happening in two one-hundredths of a second. When a player says to me, “This is what I’m feeling,” I’m not interested, because the time frame is too small, and they couldn’t logically explain what’s happening. So you have to be the voice of reason, and what happens is that “keep it simple, stupid” method of coaching. Sometimes people don’t need to do mental gymnastics in order to understand important points.
Speaking of the mental aspect of the game, can you make yourself fearless?
When you hear sports psychologists say the key is to get to this Zen state of flow or whatever, I disagree with that. I think, with a lot of athletes or people in the business world, they’re too busy trying to become something rather than accepting who they are and trying to maximize who they are. I’ve read the autobiographies of all these amazing people who changed the world, whether it was through business, technology, race relations, religion, you name it—their whole lives were just a function of how much pain they could endure. Life is hard. Fear is important.